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flicker: Brian B

During my studying for the promotion exam I found four key tips when it came to studying. As you know there are numerous “study tips” you can find online, in books, or by word of mouth. The best way to find the study tips that work for you is to find what fits your style. Everyone reads differently, studies differently, and absorbs information differently. Find a tip that works for you and stick with it.


No matter what you are studying for, these four tips will at least give you a starting point to help you stay focused.


Set a timer. Yes I know. This sounds simple, easy, and obvious, but do you stick to your timer when you study? When I first started studying I would try to sit for at least 50 minutes. That did not work at all. Within 15 minutes I could barely sit still.  Sidenote: I do not have a job where I stay seated for long hours. Personally I am not used to sitting for long periods of time. With that being said, setting a timer really helped me learn to sit in one spot.


I started at 20 minutes and worked my way up to 40 minutes. That does not sound long, but think of it this way: 40 minutes of good quality studying is better than two hours of daydreaming while studying.


When the timer goes off, get up and walk around. Get your snack, stretch, make that phone call, or take care of business.


When you start studying again make sure to reset that timer and keep on taking in all of that knowledge.


Keep snacks and drinks close by. You are thinking now, WOW, Jake you are a miracle worker with your study tips. You must have researched a ton to really get these study tips down. I know this tip is obvious but I know you have started studying and twenty minutes in you think, man, I am thirsty or I could eat those almonds right now.  When you sit down, bring a drink and a small snack. It will help you sideline those little cravings and keep you from getting up. The most important part of this tip is to just make sure you stay seated. Once you get up and grab something, the chances of you coming back and sitting down and studying are going to be slim to none. To stay seated, bring your gear.


Stay positive. Easier said than done but it’s the truth. You are studying for a reason.  What is your reason to study hours on end? You know what it is; just keep reminding yourself when you get off-track. Fun fact: no one likes to study. If you keep reminding yourself why you are doing what you are doing you will become more focused than you ever thought possible.


When I would study I would get off-track and when I would sit up to stretch, right in front of me would be a goal sheet. I put down in bullet point format why I was studying. Figure out the reasons why you are putting in the time to study. Is it to get a pay raise, to make your parents proud, or is it just for self-pride? Only you know the reasons why you are doing this. Write them on a sheet of paper and put it right in front of your study area. This really helped me.


Find a quiet place in your own house.  I know, I know: simple. Have you ever heard of the KISS acronym, “Keep It Simple, Stupid”? I know a lot of people go to Starbucks or the library to study, but do you have forty minutes to burn during your day? I know I don’t. Think of it this way: on average it will take you twenty minutes to pack up your material, put on decent clothes, find your keys, and drive to your study location. Or you could go to your study area in your home or apartment and sit and study for as long or as little as you want.


I created a study area in my unfinished basement. It’s not the most ideal place to study but it worked for me. Having a newborn at home, I did not have the time to travel back and forth to a study location. The best thing for me was to create a space.  When my son went down for a nap I could study for a half-hour.


I understand if you live in a very loud house or busy apartment you might be better off leaving, but remember that every place has a low-traffic area. You might be better off going there instead of traveling.


These four study tips are nothing new but I hope they give you a starting point. I know you have some study tips that really helped you during your promotional exam or test. If you want to share them, please post them in the comments below.


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